Sunday, November 24, 2013

URSP Student Emily Walker Researches Possible Factors Influencing Students with Artificial Learning Task

            Upon coming to Mason, I knew I wanted to get involved in linguistics, and specifically, research. I have always found human language to be a fascinating subject, especially the capabilities we are born with versus what we acquire. After trying to get involved in linguistics at Mason, I was able to meet with a professor.
            Finally, I was put into contact with Dr. Culbertson. I became interested in the project after meeting Dr. Culbertson of the Linguistics Program at Mason. I was fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Culbertson this past spring as an assistant in the linguistics lab. After helping her with the second language acquisition experiment, we found interesting results. This became the branching point for our next experiment. We wanted to know why students here at Mason could not learn the artificial language task. From there, we narrowed our question down to motivation, anxiety, and training time factors as possible contributors.
            For my project, I run participants on the computer task on a weekly basis. Most of the work involves organization with participants and recording data properly. I hope learning about factors in second language acquisition can further my connections with teaching and examining learning styles of children. My long term goal is to continue working in the field of linguistics and create connections that benefit education in the classroom.
            A recent discovery with the project has been through the participants. I have noticed that participants are eager to learn the language task and want to know what the language program involved. I am happy to explain the project and here the thoughts of the participants. Knowing that these findings about language acquisition can benefit them and other students allows me to pursue my interest with language research.